strawmom


Review of Candy Aisle Crafts by Jodi Levine
February 12, 2015, 10:18 am
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Jodi Levine, former craft editor and product designer for the Martha Stewart Living Magazine, wrote a whimsical make-it book titled Candy Aisle Crafts. These food crafts are charming and include candy cane necklaces, cookie planets, and a cookie castle cake. My sons are really interested in the illustrations. They have been asking me to make the cookie planets and the castle cake, which is really impressive in the picture. Turrets are constructed out of sandwich cookies and towers out of sugar ice cream cones.
My six year old, naturally, is interested in castles, planets, and construction. Those modern versions of snips and snails and puppy dog tails. As I am typing, his younger brother is looking at the book, saying “Holy cow. Candy canes. Hearts. Suckers. Birthday cake. Yum.” Now he is pretending to eat the illustrations. So, this book is a good book for families with young children. I haven’t made any of the recipes yet, as I am a little intimidated by some of them. The castle cake would be good for a birthday. Perhaps this summer. The kids have a four day weekend coming up. Perhaps I will attempt the cookie planets. That would be a good activity.
There is one recipe/craft that really caught my attention: Peppermint candy bowls. However, I am unsure what to put in them once they are completed. Ice cream, perhaps? And how many times could you use them? Once? Questions, questions.
If you like making crafts/baking, this is a good book to have on hand. I really like the chapter on marshmallows. The animals that can be crafted out of marshmallows are very cute. Imagine crafting a cow out of a marshmallow and putting it on the rim of a cup of chocolate milk or hot chocolate. Very charming,
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for writing a review. I am under no obligation to give a favorable review.



Review of Go Fresh by The American Heart Association
August 7, 2014, 12:19 pm
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This is a great cookbook, especially now, in mid-August, when garden vegetables are ready. I made several recipes for my family. My kids, 3 and 5, weren’t very receptive to the ones I selected, but then I need to make a dish more suited to their needs. The Country Thyme Chicken Strips, page 149, might be better suited towards their tastes. 

This cookbook is perhaps more suited to older adults than to ones with small children. I did find all the recipes I have made so far to be, as the book cover promises, quick to make. Last night for supper, we had the side dish from page 218, Broccoli and Red Bell Peppers with Parmesan Sauce. Well, I had to use a yellow pepper, but it was still very colorful. The broccoli was from the garden. The kids didn’t try it, but my husband exclaimed “fantastic!” and said we would have to have this again. 

I want to make the Fresh Herb and Olive Oil Sauce, page 255, and the Raspberry-Blackberry dressing, page 115, as well as the Pasta Provencal, page 186. Yum.

I was very impressed with this cookbook and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants to eat a healthy diet using fresh ingredients. In the preface Rose Marie Robinson, M.D., writes, “Not everyone can grow fresh vegetables in their backyard, of course, but the renewed focus on fresh and healthy food has led to many options you can explore.”

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press in exchange for writing a review on it. 



Review of The Opposite of Maybe
July 11, 2014, 9:39 pm
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I read The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson recently. I liked the book. I felt, at times, that the author used a really great phrase, but did not carry through. All in all, it was a good read, but I felt there were too many places where the reader was left hanging.
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press in exchange for writing a review. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.



Review of Seasons of Tomorrow by Cindy Woodsmall
May 26, 2014, 8:42 pm
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The Amish gather our interest. They live simpler lives than we do, forgive better than we do (my reference being the shooting at an Amish school), and have a structure to their lives that often is lacking from our own. Cindy Woodsmall illustrates a point of view rarely considered by Englischers in Seasons of Tomorrow, the fourth book in the Amish Vines and Orchards series. It is not easy being Amish in today’s world.

A new Old Order Amish settlement has been established in Maine. Rhoda Byler, her older brother Steven, his wife Phoebe, and their children have founded this settlement along with sibling Samuel, Jacob, and Leah King. Landon Olson, a long-time friend and driver of Rhoda’s, has also moved to Maine from Pennsylvania. Landon has fallen in love with Leah, despite numerous reservations. This relationship disregards the Ordnung, which is the unwritten set of rules the Amish live by. I hate to use such a trite comparison, but think Romeo and Juliet. Landon and Leah are, of course, not guided by teenage romance nor are they divided by family rivalry. But there is a dividing line.

This division between worlds is explored throughout the book. Samuel speaks with his father, who travels to Maine after hearing of the relationship between Landon and Leah. He asks his father if he is opposed to a marriage between Leah and Landon “because it’s morally wrong, or because of how it will make you look to the church.” On the same page, it is explained that “Everyone on the farm had deep concerns about Leah leaving the Amish, including Leah, [Samuel] imagined. But they’d worked to make sure their feelings were based in love and true concern, not fear, pride, and an effort to save face.” Leah didn’t fall in love with an outsider out of rebellion. She found, as her brother Samuel did in Rhoda, the person in her life who understands her and whom she wants to spend her life with, despite the obstacles.

Landon approaches Leah’s father to make a deal of sorts. “I’m sick of you thinking outsiders are too stupid to comprehend what’s important in life and too evil to be allowed to infiltrate your camps of great holiness, “Landon tells Benjamin King before leaving in accordance with the deal that has been made.

I enjoyed the way this book ended. It is very similar to real life, where not everything is perfect but people are making a life of their own. There is very little rebellion, but support is offered to family.

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for writing this review.



Review of Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis
September 9, 2013, 3:56 pm
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I had just finished reading The Wednesday Letters by Jason Wright when I received my free copy of Forever Friday from Waterbrook Multnomah Press. I assumed the two books would be very similar. And they were. And they weren’t, too. Both books had a married couple in which the husband writes a weekly letter/postcard to his wife.
Gabe and Pearl “Huck” Alexander don’t have children as the couple in The Wednesday Letters does. Their legacy has more to do with an outside presence. They share the influence of this presence with a close friend. She shares it in turn with her daughter. Her daughter shares it with the narrator of the book.

Adam is a recently divorced man who owns an estate-sale business. He discovers the postcards Gabe sent to Huck while attending the sale at the Alexander’s house. I liked this book, but it took a while to get into it. I am not sure where the problem lies. Perhaps after reading The Wednesday Letters, I thought I would encounter another story about strong family ties. That is not fair to this book. It was a good read, but I felt there was something lacking.

I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for writing a review. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.



Prairie Song review
August 2, 2013, 9:40 pm
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Books are great sources for imaginations. It is a good mark for a book to let you understand a different world from your own. This world can be different in terms of place (another country), or time (past or future). I prefer historical books because they are more tangible. You can understand certain aspects of the lives lived. Mona Hodgson’s Prairie Song, the first book in the Hearts Seeking Home series, is a good example of historical fiction.
Anna Goben, along with her mother and grandfather, joins a wagon train headed to California. This is a chance for a new start for their family, following the death of Anna’s brother Dedrick. Every journey involves some growth. Anna, as well as others on the journey, undergoes growth.
Mona Hodgson does a good job of portraying human nature in this book. There are younger characters, such as Anna, who are not as affected by the upheaval of the move. Anna’s mother, Wilma, as well as Davonna Kamden, are reluctant travelers and have a hard time on the journey. Old habits die hard in a world of constant change.
I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for writing a review. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.



Review of Perfecting Kate by Tamara Leigh
June 8, 2013, 9:00 pm
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Kate Meadows is a very likable character. She has a career she loves and goes to church weekly. She falls into that trap of not liking herself quite enough. Oh yeah, that’s a familiar spot. Her new boyfriend does not help matters much. He likes her, but keeps giving her nudges towards improving her physical appearance. Goodbye mole. Goodbye gap in front teeth. After a while, Kate realizes that there is no there there. She turns back to her Bible and, in the end, her life becomes what she always wanted it to be. Just not the way she expected it to be.

I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for writing a review. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.